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Top Mine Off

Premium fishing lines are expensive these days. One of the best ways
to save a buck without sacrificing performance is to top dress popular
bait casting, trolling and spinning reels.
By Mark Romanack

Newsflash premium fishing lines are expensive. These days with modern advancements like stranded braid, fused lines, co-polymers and fluorocarbon lines no surprise these essential fishing products are expensive. Buying a new reel and filling the spool with any of these lines can be a shock to the pocket book. If an avid angler is filling eight, 10 or 12 matched trolling reels the cost might just break the bank!

The best way to spool all your reels with premium line and still save a few bucks is a process called top dressing. Truth is, most of the line on the spool of a fishing reel never sees the light of day. In the case of a spinning reels that holds 120 yards of 10 pound test line, even the longest cast is going to use less than 1/3 of the total line on the reel.

Trolling reels have much larger line capacity, they cost a lot more to fill and most of the line never hits the water. Top dressing with a premium monofilament, braid, fused line, co-polymer or fluorocarbon line is the fast track to saving money without sacrificing any performance.

For new reels an inexpensive backing line must be added to the reel before the top dressing process can begin. Monofilament is the ideal backing material because it spools nicely and is the least expensive of the major line types.

If you have an older reel that needs new line, don’t strip all the old line off the reel. Instead use some of that older line as backing and simply top dress with an appropriate amount of fresh premium line.

The Double Uni Knot is ideal for attaching backing material to a top dressing of premium fishing line. When synched and trimmed properly the Double Uni Knot is very small and loads nicely on the spools of spinning, spincasting, baitcasting and levelwind trolling reels. To learn how to tie the Double Uni Knot visit a site called for an illustrated view of this and many other popular fishing knots.

The point of top dressing is to save money by only loading part of the reel spool with premium line. The question becomes how much line is required for each reel type to be functional?
Premium braids like Maxima’s 8 Strand are
among the most expensive of premium lines. To
save money the author loads his reels with a
backing of monofilament and top dresses with
just enough 8 strand braid to get the job done.

With spinning and spincast reels the typical line capacity is around 100 yards and the average cast is about 100 to 120 feet. Top dressing a spinning reel with 200 feet of premium line is about perfect. Low profile style baitcasting reels tend to have a limited line capacity. Most only accept 110 to 120 yards of 10-12 pound test. In this case loading low profile baitcasting reels with about half backing and half premium fishing line is about right.

Round frame baitcasting reels hold much more line than their low profile cousins. In this case most of these reels will hold 200 or more yards of 10-12 pound test. Load round frame baitcasting reels with at least 100 to 150 yards of backing line before top dressing the remaining 80 to 100 yards of premium line.

Levelwind style trolling reels have exceptionally large line capacity ratings. Even the smaller 20 sizes in this reel category will hold over 300 yards of 10-12 pound test. For 20 size trolling reels load on about 200 yards of backing and finish the reel with 100 yards of premium fishing line. Larger 30 or 40 size trolling reels will require using even more backing.

The final piece of the puzzle is to make sure when top dressing the reel spool is full to capacity and no more. All reels function best when they are loaded to capacity. If too much line is loaded onto the spool, backlashes and tangles are almost certain to occur. If not enough line is loaded onto the spool, casting distance and the ability to troll with long leads is sacrificed.

Top dressing allows anglers to fish with premium fishing lines while saving money in the process. That sounds like a win/win any way it’s sliced.